Retrofitting an espresso machine with Arduino

Maker mods his Brasilia espresso machine with custom electronics and a PID upgrade.

Like most Makers, Rhys Goodwin loves his coffee. So much so that he is the proud owner of a Brasilia Lady espresso machine. Yet, in comparison to modern-day equipment, the device was as simple as they come with some outdated electronics inside.


So in true DIY fashion, Goodwin took it upon himself to restore the appliance using an Arduino, a PID controller, an OLED display and a few other custom-machined components, all while keeping its inner workings as original as possible. He did, however, strip down the casing and powder coat it in flame red before reassembling.

Before the mod, the extremely basic machine featured a 300ml brass boiler with a three-way solenoid valve, as well as one of those frequently inaccurate bimetallic thermostats. What’s more, the Lady’s operation was entirely manual. With the absence of a microcontroller, the device was purely AC driven and controlled by a set of buttons and the thermostat.


For this project, Goodwin decided that he wanted a PID modification to maintain a constant temperature. He also swapped out the Lady’s original front-facing AC buttons for an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), while everything was controlled through software with solid state relays for the pump, boiler and solenoid. Beyond that, the Maker added an OLED display and two temperature probes: one for the coffee, the other for the brew kit.


The retrofitted espresso maker runs the Arduino PID library to manage the boiler temperature, while the old AC buttons are now directed to the Arduino, which in turn, allows Goodwin to navigate the menu and PID parameters. When all was said and done, the internal water tank was sacrificed in order to make room for the custom PCB and control box.

Interested? Browse through the entire project log here, or simply watch it in action below.

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